Using Wikis safely

in the K-12 Classroom


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Meditations and Considerations

Creating Good Cybercitizens It's important to encourage students to be good citizens wherever they may find themselves, by following the rules of that place. It is important to impress upon the students that the Internet is a space with its own special rules. Finally we, as educators, must show students that people who communicate over the Internet are called "cybercitizens." Also they must strive to be good citizens using whatever web 2.0 technology that they are assigned.

Good Cybercitizens Do’s and Don’t’s

Do’s

  1. DO use the Internet to help with schoolwork. The Internet is a source of great volumes of information. It's like having the world's largest library at your fingertips!
  2. DO respect the privacy of other users on the Internet, just as you expect your privacy to be respected. How would you feel if someone read your private e-mail or your grades?
  3. DO be careful when you "download" (copy) programs from the Internet. Use a virus scan program before loading it on your computer. Some programs on the Internet contain viruses that can harm your computer.

Don’t’s

  1. DON'T give your password to anyone. Passwords are intended to protect your computer and your files. It's like giving the key to your house away!
  2. DON'T answer messages that make you feel uncomfortable because they seem improper, indecent, or threatening. TELL A GROWN-UP RIGHT AWAY.
  3. DON'T give any personal information, such as your family's address, phone number, credit card or calling card numbers, your school's name, or your picture to anyone on a computer network that you don't personally know.
  4. DON'T try to break into computers. It's not a game. It's a crime and it's an invasion of privacy. Computers often contain sensitive information. How would you feel if someone broke into a computer and changed your grades? Deleted your term paper?
  5. DON'T steal copyrighted computer programs ("software") by copying it from the Internet. This is the same as stealing it from a store. People work hard to develop new programs and deserve to be paid for them. If software designers don't get paid for their work, they can't continue creating new software, such as new educational games or tools that help with schoolwork.
  6. DON'T make copies of any copyrighted material, like books, magazines, or music without the permission of the author, publisher or artist. Copyrighted works are available (usually illegally) on the Internet. You are committing a crime if you copy and distribute them.


Creating a Student Initiated Acceptable Use Policy

While, we as educators cannot completely guarantee safety when using the internet and related technologies, technology can help to minimize the risks to pupils, particularly when supported by a clear acceptable-use policy and appropriate e-safety education.

When formulating an acceptable-use policy for pupil technology use, consider:

  • Are pupils involved in the creation of school e-safety policies, possibly through pupil representation on the school’s e-safety policy team?
  • Does the school have filtering systems in place to prevent pupils from accessing inappropriate materials? Are these systems regularly reviewed and updated?
  • Are pupils aware of the procedures for reporting accidental access to inappropriate materials?
  • Are there a range of sanctions in place for deliberate access to inappropriate materials? Are these leveled to the seriousness of the offense (for example temporary suspension of technology access rights for minor offenses, ranging to permanent exclusion and involvement of the police for very serious offenses)? Are pupils aware of these sanctions?
  • Does the school have policies on the use of email by pupils? How are email addresses handled (group or individual)? Are webmail accounts permitted? Is use of school email accounts permitted for personal use, or only to support classroom activities?
  • Does the school take reasonable measures to monitor the use of the Internet and email by pupils? Are there individual logins? Is the monitoring process communicated to users, and are pupils aware of sanctions for misuse of school facilities?
  • Are pupils aware of their individual responsibilities to protect the security and confidentiality of school networks and external networks? This may include ensuring that passwords are not shared, and incorporating a statement that pupils must not try to deliberately access the online files or folders of their peers, teachers or others (for example, through hacking).
  • Are pupils aware of their social responsibilities with regard to using the Internet and other communication technologies, including treating others with respect and reporting instances of online bullying?
  • Are all security measures reviewed regularly against the perceived risks to pupils and the latest technology available?


Safety Concerns for your Wikispaces.com

One of the biggest security concerns to consider is that student accounts can receive internal Wikispace -mail from other accounts. Although students can turn the messaging system off, they can also turn it back on themselves. Wikispaces does offer a private label option that allows a school board to run an exclusive wiki network, but the average teacher won't be able to afford this solution.

Acceptable Use Policy Example Links:

Model Acceptable Use Policy
Example #1
Example #2